Meet Your Canadian World Cup Champions in 2009-10

What a year. Canada’s winter athletes shone this past season. We all know what transpired at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games – 26 medals, 14 of them gold, a new world record. Let’s take a moment outside the Olympic spotlight and look at the Canadians who won World Cup titles this season. Their consistency over many months, at events all across the world, made them the best in the world.

Maëlle Ricker, snowboard
Canadians won’t soon forget the smile of Maelle Ricker, the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold in Canada. Ricker has had an absolutely dominant season, and it has concluded with the Crystal Globe.

The native of West Vancouver won not only the overall ladies snowboard cross title, but had enough points to win the overall ladies snowboard title – beating competitors from all other disciplines. Ricker had six World Cup medals this season, including three gold. She finished with an even 5,000 points, 450 more than second-place snowboard cross rider Helene Olafsen, the reigning world champion from Norway.

Erik Guay, alpine
This season ended in spectacular fashion for Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que. He became only the second Canadian man ever to win a World Cup Crystal Globe alpine title. Guay finished first overall in super-G, vaulting from third to first after winning the last race of the season. Guay joins Steve Podborski (2010 Assistant Chef de Mission) as the only ones to win a men’s alpine Crystal Globe, as Podborski won the 1982 downhill title. Truly a historic season for arguably Canada’s best current skier.

Mellisa Hollingsworth, skeleton
The native of Eckville, Alberta was the overall women’s World Cup champion in skeleton. Hollingsworth captured seven medals in eight races – two gold, two silver and three bronze. She won the title despite battling sprained ribs and a nasty cold in the final two weeks of the season in Europe. It is the second time in her career she won the World Cup title, also doing so in the Olympic season of 2005-06.

Justin Lamoureux, snowboard
The snowboarder from Squamish, B.C. won the Crystal Globe for men’s halfpipe this season. Lamoureux is the first Canadian man to win the halfpipe overall title since snowboard entered the World Cup circuit in 1995. He won two World Cup medals and had two fourth-place finishes, a better overall record than all other riders. To win, he required a podium spot in the final World Cup in March that was contested on difficult riding conditions and soft snow.

Jenn Heil, freestyle skiing
In the history of Canadian high performance sport, few athletes have reached the heights reached by Jenn Heil. The Spruce Grove, Alberta native has won Olympic gold and silver medals in her two appearances in 2006 and 2010. She has shown remarkable consistency this decade, and won the 2010 Crystal Globe as top moguls skier – her fifth such title. That ties the record set by U.S. skier Donna Weinbrecht. This season, Heil reached the podium at eight World Cup events in a row, including a streak of four straight gold medals. She finished third overall among freestyle skiers of all disciplines.

Christine Nesbitt, speed skating
Heading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Christine Nesbitt had not lost a 1,000-metre race in the 2009-10 World Cup season. The speed skater from London, Ont. memorably carried that momentum into the Richmond Oval and won Olympic gold in the event. She finished the season as World Cup 1,000-metre champion.

Kristina Groves, speed skating
Ottawa’s Kristina Groves won the overall 1,500-metre speed skating title for the third consecutive World Cup season. Her 560 points topped Nesbitt, second with 374. One of Canada’s strongest-ever skaters now has three Olympic silver medals and one bronze to her name. She has been a powerful World Cup competitor this decade.

Women’s team pursuit, speed skating
Cindy Klassen, Brittany Schussler (both of Winnipeg) and Groves won gold in team pursuit at the World Cup finals in March, the third win of the season. It earned them the World Cup title in this event. Canada’s 430 points outdistances second-place Russia’s 320.

Charles Hamelin, short track speed skating
Double gold medallist at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Charles Hamelin stole the World Cup show in the 500 metres. He was World Cup champion in this distance, his 2,328 points topping teammate François-Louis Tremblay’s 2,024.

(In women’s bobsleigh, Kaillie Humphries finished second overall. She also captured Olympic gold.)